Point/Counterpoint: JetBlue's Apology Isn't Enough

Consumerist HQ responded positively to jetBlue’s apologies earlier this week. Understandable: Airline CEO David “Mortified” Neeleman’s words felt sincere, and it was good to hear him apologize for the unfortunate imprisonment of hundreds of people inside their airplanes for hours on end last week. It’s tough to apologize, and they did it. Hats off.

But as the guest blogger, I say hold on: Apologies are nice, but check out the fine print in the new policy (pdf), and all isn’t as great as it seems at first glance:

• The policy promises that the airline won’t keep you stuck in a plane for more than 5 hours, and that they’ll pay amends for delays. But they’ll ONLY pay if the cause of the delay is “due to a Controllable Irregularity.” What’s a controllable irregularity? They’re not saying.

• There is only one way to get cold, hard cash from jetBlue: If they kick you off a flight because they overbooked. They’ll pay you $1000. Great, right? JetBlue doesn’t overbook. Now, that’s a customer friendly policy, but the $1000 is a red herring. In all of 2006, only 126 jetBlue customers were ever denied boarding. So don’t plan to make the rent by getting booted from a flight. It’s a promise that sounds better than it really is.

• For all other delays, if the airline admits fault, your compensation is in the form of a voucher, not cash. Vouchers suck. Only around 10% of them ever get cashed. They’re the moral equivalent of mail-in refunds, and around here, them’s fightin’ words.

So, yes, jetBlue apologized. Thanks for that. But don’t believe the hype. MARK ASHLEY

(Photo: Cybele May at Candy Blog)